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Hot 2021 Prop Bet: DROY (by Bet The Close Podcast’s Chris Bilello)

August 17, 2021 11:18 AM
August 17, 2021 11:17 AM

Hot 2021 Prop Bet: DROY (by Bet The Close Podcast’s Chris Bilello)

I believe there is tremendous value in a bet on Micah Parsons to win Defensive Rookie of the Year anywhere north of +300…current odds are in a far more generous range of +550 (Fanduel) to +400 (BetMGM).  


Let’s take a stroll through history before digging deeper into  the 2021 rookies...

The Defensive Rookie of the Year award has historically been  “chalk” (ie. dominated by the favorites).  In the popularity contest that is DROY, 12 of the last 14 winners were top 15 picks in the NFL draft.  The two exceptions were 2nd round pick Darius Leonard winning in 2018, who just edged out Derwin James (the #17  pick in the draft) and Marcus Peters who won in 2015 and was the #18 pick in that year’s draft.  I came across that stat and was determined to look deeper.  I thought, why not go back to the most famous defender in the history of the NFL...LT.

Past DROY Award Winners and their draft position…

2020 - Chase Young (2)

2019 - Nick Bosa (2)

2018 - Darius Leonard (36)

2017 - Marshone Lattimore (11)

2016 - Joey Bosa (3)

2015 - Marcus Peters (18)

2014 - Aaron Donald (13)

2013 - Sheldon Richardson (13)

2012 - Luke Kuechly (9)

2011 - Von Miller (2)

2010 - Ndamukong Suh (2)

2009 - Brian Cushing (15)

2008 - Jared Mayo (10)

2007 - Patrick Willis (11)

2006 - Demeco Ryans (33)

2005 - Shawn Merriman (12)

2004 - Jonathan Vilma (12)

2003 - Terrel Suggs (10)

2002 - Julius Peppers (2)

2001 - Kendrell Bell (39)

2000 - Brian Urlacher (9)

1999 - Jevon Kearse (16)

1998 - Charles Woodson (4)

1997 - Peter Bellware (4)

1996 - Simeon Rice (3)

1995 - Hugh Douglas (16)

1994 - Tim Bowens (20)

1993 - Dana Stubblefield (26)

1992 - Dale Carter (20)

1991 - Mike Croel (4)

1990 - Mark Carrier (6)

1989 - Derrick Thomas (4)

1988 - Erik McMillan (THIRD ROUND!)

1987 - Shane Conlan (8)

1986 - Leslie O’Neal (8)

1985 - Duane Bickett (5)

1984 - Bill Maas (5)

1983 - Vernon Maxwell (29) (2nd round)

1982 - Chip Banks (3)

1981 - Lawrence Taylor (2)

I found this data extremely interesting and it leads to a few obvious conclusions.  If you want to bet on a player that was drafted outside the top 20 picks, you can, just make sure you're getting paid for something that has happened less than 20% of the time.  Over the past 39 years, a player drafted in the top 20 picks  has taken home DROY slightly more than 4 out of every 5 years (82% to be exact).  

If there are no objections that the top of the first round is  a pond stocked with DROY winners, it makes sense to look at the players who were the top defensive picks in the 2021 draft individually.  


First, let’s address “everyone else”.  For simplicity I’m going to group players taken outside of the 1st round and late first round picks who are either considered works in progress or situational pass rushers.  Both describe players who I believe will have a tough time making the kind of splash needed to get the sustained media attention to compete for this award.  Not assigning a zero probability but rather the 18% chance we’ve seen win this award historically.  On to the contenders…

Let’s take both top CB’s together…

7. Jaycee Horn (CAR) - (13%) I think he has the potential to  be very good…intercepting Sam Darnold in camp doesn’t tell us much though.  

8. Patrick Surtain II (DEN) - (13%) Will be playing on a dynamite  defense so if they dominate he could get some press.  

Per the PFF podcast, the last two CBs to win DPOY (M.Peters and  M.Lattimore) had multiple Ints returned for TDs. I like the talents of both Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II, my issue is the position they play.  History shows us that the past 2 DBs to win DROY had multiple interceptions for TDs in the years they won and  before that Charles Woodson had 5 INTs and a TD along with the momentum of having won the Heisman Trophy the year before.  Eric McMillan led the AFC with 8 INTs and scored twice in 1988.  Marc Carrier did not score but had 10 INTs in 1990.  Dale Carter had  7 INTs and a TD in 1992…three more interceptions than he had in any other year of his career.  You get the idea, I’m not saying these guys can’t get there…but given that only 4 CBs and 2 Safeties have taken this award in the last 40 years I believe a generous  probability for each player is 15%.  That number gives them the combined probability of both CBS and Safeties that have won so I’ll tweak it down to a still generous 13% each.  

12. Micah Parsons (DAL) - A superstar…let’s save the details  until the end!

16. Zaven Collins (ARI) - (3%) Priced in the Jaycee Horn/Patrick  Surtain 14-1 range for a reason.  Per RC’s scouting report a good player but not a superstar.  Received a lot of attention (and College Football DPOY) because of a flurry of right place right time INTs and return TDs.  Solid player, but seems like a very unlikely  candidate for DROY.

18. Jaelan Phillips (MIA) - (5%) 2nd to 4th betting favorite  behind Parsons depending on the book.  Per RC, athletically gifted but plays all speed.  Has no moves as a pass rusher and a majority of his stats came in a 3 game stretch vs average competition.  Sacks were chasing QB down vs beating a DE with his moves. Shaq Lawson is gone from the Dolphins so the thought is Phillips will fill a key pass rusher role, but there is also mention of  bringing him along slowly and the injury risk of multiple concussions, ankle and wrist injuries in his college career.  Seems likely if he is going to fulfill his potential it will take some time.  

19. Jamin Davis (WAS) - (5%) The 2nd to 4th betting favorite  behind Parsons depending on the book.  I get the excitement because I like the landing spot playing behind a great DL...but paraphrasing RCs scouting report Davis is a LB who prefers to be in coverage and is not a thumping tackler.  Doesn’t read like a DROY  candidate.  Also only started 11 total games in college.  If he isn’t going to get sacks, even 100 tackles won’t do the trick…betting on Davis will leave us crossing our fingers for interceptions.  

21. Kwity Paye (IND) - (8%) The 2nd or 3rd betting favorite behind  Parsons depending on the book.  RC projects a useful pro but not elite.  Good tools but college stats came in bunches vs weak competition then Paye disappeared vs top teams.  You get approx 2x the payout vs Parsons with a small fraction of the chance of winning.

Below are the draft picks that represent the combined 18% of  the time a player chosen beyond the 20th pick have won…there really isn’t anyone who can make a strong case for us to adjust that number up…

22. Caleb Farley (TEN) 

26. Greg Newsome II (CLE) 

28. Payton Turner (NO) 

29. Eric Stokes (GB) 

30. Greg Rousseau (BUF) 

31. Odafe Oweh (BAL) 

32. Joe Tryon (TB) - RC says there is star EDGE rusher potential here but also mentions that the college stats don’t live up to the tape.  Potentially an effort issue?… think the bigger issue for DROY is JPP and Shaq Barrett are the starters in Tampa.

52. (R2) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoa - I left him out of the podcast  but he is being priced as a top candidate on Fanduel…if you haven’t read RCs scouting report…and I quote “…a scratch and dent sale, Goodwill store version of Isaiah Simmons”.  

The Superstar


Why Michah Parsons…

In addition to being in a relatively weak draft class,I believe the pass rush ability of Parsons is being overlooked.  Parsons was the top rated High School DE when he arrived at Penn St.  They played him at LB and shortly after the draft Dan Quinn said he will play MIKE/WILL in a base 3-4 defense…with a focus on inside blitz and stunt schemes (because that’s what they saw on film).

In addition to RC’s positive scouting report I’ve heard M.Parsons  described as a “seek and destroy linebacker”.  The quote below from Parsons himself is what has me so excited that he can fill the stat sheet in multiple categories…

"There are third-down packages I am going to be in," he said.

 "On first and second down, I am going to be in the box. On third down, they are going to find a way to get me to the quarterback, which I am excited about. I think [Dan Quinn] is a great coordinator. One of the best ones. He gets his best players on the field  and [in] position to make plays and I have full faith in him."

Indecent exposure 

Whether you like it or not, America’s Team will be on your television  early and often this season. After being featured in the Hall of Fame Game and Hard Knocks, the Cowboys play five prime time games (including opening night).  They play the Giants, Patriots, Chargers and Chiefs at 4:30 EST which are highly likely to be national  TV games.  They also host the Raiders on Thanksgiving.  If Parsons makes a big play, there is a greater than 50% chance that it will be on National TV. 

The Media

If we find ourselves in a close DROY vote, I like that Parsons  has the media push from not only Dallas but PA, NJ, NY.  He was a star at Penn St (where he graduated in 3 years) but is also the son of Harrisburg, PA.  He received the key to the city post-draft.  In interviews he comes across as a humble, hard working,  intelligent guy.  All positive in the DROY popularity contest.  

While being interviewed on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast, Parsons was asked about being the favorite for DROY and said “it’s cool, but it’s gonna be better when I go get it”...”it will look better and taste better when I have the award.” Asked if that is a goal of his “of course”

#11 - Dallas Cowboy Royalty 

M. Parsons wore #11 at Penn St and mentioned on a podcast that  the number is important to him. The night of the NFL Draft provided us some evidence that he is already Cowboys royalty, shortly after Parsons became the Cowboys pick, Cedrick Wilson (#11) changed his Twitter bio to #16.  Days after the draft Jerry Jones  was asked about the negotiations for Parsons to get #11 and he responded “what negotiations?”.  No need to “buy” the number from the existing player.  


We know this defensive draft class was relatively weak. Look  no further than the odds for Offensive Rookie of the Year (there’s plenty of competition over there) to see how good we have it.  The PFF Podcast mentioned that this is not a rich defensive draft so this is the year to go for a long shot…I totally disagree. 

A weak draft class gives us a great opportunity to bet a superstar favorite at generous odds relative to the favorites of the past few seasons.  

Give me M.Parsons (+550 at Fanduel) and (+500 at DraftKings)  all summer long.  


***The 2021 FFM Draft Guide Package is now available – see the FFM homepage for more information, including Combo deals with the In-Season Package and Dynasty Stash reporting.

2021 College Football Metrics subscriptions are still available – all the NFL Draft/rookie prospect scouting reports, Dynasty Rookie Draft (weekly top 350) coverage and analysis PLUS our annual Devy scouting report/rankings summer series begins in July.***


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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

Learn more about RC and the Fantasy Football Metrics system >>